10.19.2015
policy

Guess Which Nation Told the United Nations to Shut Up About Drugs

Hint: You're living in it.

Famous Virgin Sir Richard Branson is a long-time advocate for worldwide drug decriminalization. Branson is an active member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy (former presidents of Colombia, Mexico and Poland also sit on the Commission). Hardly a news cycle goes by that the Virgin Group founder does not deplore the harm-exacerbation caused by the planet-wide militarized interdiction of illicit drug use, a hugely costly effort—both in terms of dollars and human misery—that many observers believe is driven by a combination of interventionist United States foreign policy and the American consumer's hearty appetite for intoxicants of all types.

Early on Monday, October 19, Branson's corporate site—under the headline "Finally, a Change in Course on Drug Policy"— announced a development that the company's leader considered to be a much-needed positive:

In an as-yet unreleased statement circulated to the BBC, myself and others, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) calls on governments around the world to decriminalize drug use and possession for personal consumption for all drugs. This is a refreshing shift that could go a long way to finally end the needless criminalization of millions of drug users around the world. The UNODC document was due to be launched at the International Harm reduction conference in Malaysia yesterday.

Image via United Nations Photo/Flickr

Unfortunately, Branson's announcement seems to have alerted and activated forces that hold a vested interest in continuing a policy that is a sweet deal for America's prison-industrial complex and feeds the power of a U.S. federal law enforcement agency that operates like an international search-and-destroy spy network.

These vested interests have spoken, presumably, in private, and the United Nations document calling on governments around the world to remove criminal penalties for personal drug consumption has not been launched in Malaysia—or anywhere else on this green earth routinely circumnavigated by Branson's fleet of airships.

The UNODC's ploy to remove criminal liabilities from personal drug consumption argues convincingly that "arrest and incarceration are disproportionate measures" and that pursuing drug users as criminals worsens "public health problems and induced negative consequences for safety, security, and human rights." Regardless of its self-evident common sense, the document was withdrawn prior to publication due to pressure from, as reported by the BBC, one unnamed country.

Was that country Mexico? Was it Poland? Colombia, maybe? Or somewhere closer to US?

Image via United Nations Information Centre/Flickr

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